Lenny Kaye, the long-time guitarist for the Patti Smith Group, amassed a collection of 1500 mimeographed science fiction zines from the 1940s to the 1970s, and they're on display this weekend at the New York Art Book Fair. These zine covers are wild and in some cases kind of alarming.

Writing in Thought Catalog, Mark Dery says:

In the fragile, yellowing pages of Kaye's fanzine and scores like it, we find the secret history of a world largely invisible to mainstream culture, a world animated by shared passions but also riven by turf wars and ideological bloodletting (between the allegedly Communist Futurians and SF's right-wing flank)—a social world, in other words, as real as the "real" one. There was scurrilous gossip about homosexuality and pedophilia, and an ongoing furor over SF hack L. Ron Hubbard's million-dollar idea of turning his comic-book cosmology into the pulp religion of Dianetics. "One fan hoaxed his own death in order to see what his friends and fellow fans would say about him; others skipped town with the treasuries of local clubs, or with the spouses of close friends," Womack writes, in his exhibition catalog essay. "One attempted for years to convince other fans that fans were in fact a separate, and far superior, species of human being. (Though somehow often as racist, and always as sexist, as the mundane species.) Fans lived in a timeline where the Cuban Missile Crisis passed nearly unnoticed, and where the Kennedy assassination was regretted most for causing the death of Aldous Huxley on the same day to have passed unnoticed."


If you can't make it to the exhibition this weekend, you can also buy the Exhibition Catalog online.

Here are a few more of those wonderfully strange zine covers. More at the link. [Thought Catalog, via Boing Boing]